Aya Fujimiya looked up at the greeting, and was met by the sight of an exhausted looking Omi. The boy was stifling a yawn, and had dark shadows around his blue eyes. Responding back with his usual "Hn," Aya stepped away from the counter he had been leaning against, and over to the coffee pot. Topping off his own cup, he poured another and offered it to young blond.
Omi accepted the mug, and in return handed the older assassin a list of paper. "I went over the case files last night, and here is a list of the clubs that I think you should try to get a job in. These three places are the ones with the strongest links to the mission, and with luck at least one of them will be hiring." Omi then took a swallow of coffee, hoping the bitter beverage would wash away the taste in his mouth that he got whenever he thought about the case. The actual work hadnít kept him up that late last night, but he had had trouble falling asleep afterward, visions of the victims floating in his mind.
"Hn". Aya looked down at the list, instantly recognizing the three names. He had also spent a good portion of the night going over the files Manx had given them. It was in the first bar, Bacchus that he was hoping to find work. While the place had a well-earned reputation of being a meat market of a rather seedy nature, it was a better prospect than the other two establishments. The Velvet Room was a fetish club, specializing in but not limited to S/M. The other place, going by the non-assuming non-de plume Palace, was known as a haven for the cross-dressing members of the gay community. Aya drew the line at dressing in drag, which was pretty much required of the Palaceís employees, and didnít even want to think about what he would do if hired by the Velvet Room.
Trying to distract himself from his future work prospects, Aya thought over all the information they had on the target for this mission. It was clear, besides being a sick bastard with a thing for human eyes and inflicting pain, that they were dealing with an intelligent and cautious individual. None of the victims could recall ever catching a glimpse of their attacker. They all had been knocked unconscious from behind, and several of the victims suspected that their drinks might have been tampered with. When they regained awareness, they found themselves blindfolded and cuffed. They were then severally beaten and strangled over the period of one to three days. They would once again be rendered unconscious, and when they awakened had found their eyes removed. It was after this event that the later victims had been raped. Afterwards, they were drugged and abandoned in some back alley not far from the clubs they had been taken from. None of the young men had ever recalled catching a glimpse of their abuser, and could not even recollect hearing him talk. The only thing they could remember about the man (and this was assuming the attacker was male, but it fit the profile) was that he would often whistle while he was attacking them. They all agreed that the song sounded foreign, most likely classical in nature. One of the rape victims had commented that it had sounded Spanish, but couldnít elaborate any further than that. So Weiss was left with identifying a man who listened to classical music, and from the little physical evidence gathered (no semen, saliva, skin tissue or hairs, the man had been obsessively careful), a strong man with big hands. The best the assassins could hope for was that the attacker would take the bait presented to him in the form of Aya and Ken.
Seeing the red head lost in thought, Omi finished his breakfast and gathered up the courage for what he knew he had to ask. "Uhhm, AyaÖ " Omi began carefully, waiting until the full attention of violet eyes were focused on him. "This looks like it is going to be a very difficult case, what with the little evidence we have to go on. Even with you working one of the bars, and Ken visiting the others, it is still leaving a lot of things to chance. Not to mention the fact I canít even imagine Ken knowing how to handle himself in some of these places, like the Velvet Room. Would it really hurt to see if Yohji would be interested in helping Ken out with the canvassing?" The teenager had finished in a rush, trying to finish before Aya glared him into silence.
Aya was in the middle of gracing his younger teammate with one of his infamous gazes, when he paused to really think about this mission. What Omi said was true, they would have a hard enough time tracking down the attacker with the full team working on it, let alone at less than complete strength. As angry as Aya was with the blond playboy at the moment, he had to admit that Yohji was usually focused and attentive during a mission. Refusing to see if the older man was interested in helping out would pretty much be letting Ayaís feelings influence matters. Besides, there was no guarantee that the man would even want to join the mission. As was mentioned the previous night, there was no damsel in distress for Yohji to rescue, and the hard work was sure to frighten the older man away.
Nodding his head, Aya walked over to the sink, trying to ignore the smile that broke out on Omiís face upon his agreement. Washing out his coffee cup, the swordsman began to leave the kitchen. Pausing at the door, he informed Omi of his plans for the day. "I am going to open the shop, but will be leaving early to take care of a few things before trying to find a position at one of the bars. I will call to let you know which one hires me. If Yohji shows up to work his shift today, you or Ken can ask him about the case then."
Wincing at the stab of pain caused by a beam of sunlight impacting upon his unguarded eyes, Yohji quickly settled his sunglasses upon his face and slowly made his way into thankfully uncrowded flower shop. Ken glanced up, a teasing smile upon his face, and remarked, "Itís alive". This earned him a glare from bloodshot emerald eyes before the sunglasses were pushed back up the blondís nose. Settling himself at the register as he sipped his third cup of coffee of the day, Yohji was determined to ignore his surroundings until he became more awake.
Stifling a yawn, the lanky assassin tried to gather his much scattered wits in hopes of being able to function somewhat. He had consumed quite a large amount of alcohol last night, even by his own standards. He had started the drinking binge early in the afternoon after dodging work, and had barely been able to drag himself home sometime in the middle of the night. It was part of an all too familiar routine lately. Yohji was finding it almost impossible to remain at home or at work for any amount of time. All too often, disturbing thoughts and emotions about a certain teammate would invade his head, and he would find it necessary to flee for the sanctuary of a bar. Drinking said thoughts into oblivion; the blond would stagger home, only to have the cycle repeat itself the next day. The one good thing about his current course of action was that he was often too inebriated to remember the dreams that had taken to tormenting him lately; dreams that featured a rather familiar red head.
Glancing around the shop, Yohji could find no trace of his personal tormentor. Omi was at school for the day, and Ken was busy putting the finishing touches on several orders. They would have to be delivered in the afternoon, and after Yohjiís escape yesterday, the playboy was willing to bet that he would not be allowed to make the deliveries today. That meant that Aya must be back in the greenhouse or storeroom.
Grateful for his reprieve, however temporary, Yohji took the opportunity to steel himself for what promised to be a long day. He didnít know what god or demon he had offended so terribly as to find himself mired in his current situation, but he was not happy. Maybe he was paying for his sins, all the lives he had taken during his current profession. Or maybe it was simply karma itself at work. There was some delightful irony in that a man who was well known, one could say down right notorious even, for loving and leaving discovering that he himself was in love with a man who had solid ice where other people had hearts.
He had become aware of his current predicament a little over a month ago, during a mission one night. Abyssinian had split off from the group to find and dispatch the target, and in the course of a pitched battle against said targetís security guards, lost radio contact with the group. Yohji had broken out into an almost berserker rage, racing off to find and help his teammate. He had come across the swordsman calmly cleaning his katana on the jacket of the now deceased target, surrounded by the guardsí bodies. The older blond had skidded to a stop, and had to hold back a sudden urge to wrap his arms around Aya and never let go. Only the red head lifting up his blade and regarding the other assassin with a cold, curious glance had stopped Yohji, as Omi and Ken finally caught up with the older members of Weiss. The playboy had not been able to answer Bombayís query of what had caused him to take off like that. It was later that same night, when he tried to puzzle out what had made him to act out in such a concerned manner, that the blond realized that somehow he had fallen in love with Aya. In love. With Aya. Somehow having the two words, love and Aya, in the same sentence seemed rather like some bizarre oxymoron. The idea of anyone falling in love with the cold assassin seemed preposterous. Let alone said deluded fool ever hoping the red head would return the feeling.
Falling in lust with Aya was something that Yohji could comprehend only too easily. Pale, silky looking skin that was accentuated by crimson hair and violet eyes enhanced a lithe, graceful build and beautiful face. Beautiful and graceful were two words that described the red head very well. Unfortunately, so did cold and inhuman. Aya "I need no one" Fujimiya was like a perfectly crafted porcelain doll that had been brought to life, with all of the warmth one might expect from a piece of clay. Yohji could imagine only two reactions if he tried to declare his love to his fellow assassin. The positive one would end with Aya decimating him with a glare of scorn and disgust. The negative reaction would be the red head skewering Yohji with his sword. Either one was to be avoided at all costs.
Wallowing in his misery, Yohji quickly rang up the few sales that came his way, ignoring Ken who seemed to want to talk to him about something. The tall blond threw himself into flirting with anything female that came into the store. After an hour or so, he realized that it was only the brunet and himself waiting on the customers. Aya usually was out front by now, working on his precious flower arrangements. Trying to act casual, Yohji leaned against the counter when the last customer left, and asked Ken where their fellow co-worker was.
Ken looked up in surprise at the question. Yohji had done his best to ignore the brunet, who had been trying to talk to him, the whole shift. Omi had informed Ken of Ayaís acquiescence on asking the playboy if he would care to take part of the mission as the teenager left for school. Ken had then spent the morning working alongside a withdrawn Aya who was busy trying to set up the store and finish the floral arrangements that had been pre-ordered. Shortly before noon the red head had headed upstairs. The younger man had caught sight of him departing a half hour later, wearing a leather trench coat and shades. It wasnít long after that when Yohji had staggered into the store, clearly not in the best of moods.
Glancing around the empty shop, Ken decided that now would be a good time to brief Yohji. They should have a few minutes of peace before their fan club mobbed the place. He quickly recounted the previous evening, of Manxís visit and the acceptance of another mission. The older assassin visibly paled as the athlete described the victims and what they had been put through. However, the biggest reaction came when Ken mentioned Ayaís decision to go undercover at one of the bars. The flabbergasted look did much to appease the slight resentment the younger man had been feeling towards Yohji lately for his delinquent nature.
"WHAT???? You guys decided to let Aya go undercover in that kind of place. AYA??? Why didnít you wait for me before deciding to follow thisÖ insane plan?" Ken winced at the tone, the blond was practically shrieking.
"We didnít wait for you because we had no clue as to when you would ever return, or even if you would want to take part in the mission. You havenít exactly been mister reliable and hard working lately. A decision had to be made, and the man did volunteer."
It was Yohjiís turn to wince at his friendís tone this time, the anger apparent in Kenís voice. He knew he had been annoying his teammates with his current actions, and everything Ken had said was true. Harsh, but true. But really, Aya? In a gay bar? And the man had actually volunteered? Yohji would of wagered his precious car that the swordsman would take his katana to anyone who dared suggest such a plan to him, let alone go along with it willingly. The man was well known for his dislike of crowded places, and would most likely be in pain from the sound system alone. This was a person whose idea of an enjoyable evening was locking himself in his room with a book and a pot of tea, classical music low in the background. The few times that Aya had been forced to go into places of entertainment on previous assignments, he had made it quite clear that if it wasnít for the mission he would never have set foot in the establishment. And now Yohji was left to comprehend the man not only setting said foot into such a club, but willing to work there, and for possibly a couple of weeks.
The blondís brow furrowed as he tried to take all of this in. However, he kept being sidetracked by the same thought. Aya, in a gay bar. Aya, mister repressed as all hell, touch me and die, was going to be working in a gay bar. Beautiful, icy Aya working in a place where he was sure to cause the men there to drool over and hit on the red head. Yohjiís red head. Okay, thatís enough now, Yohji thought to himself. He never has nor ever will be anything other than your teammate. Focus on what Ken has been telling you about the mission. Try as he could though, the assassin could not shake an image of Aya, dressed in that obnoxious orange sweater, wielding his sword in one hand and a drink tray in another, all the while trying in vain to fend off a room full of amorous men.
Ken shot a glance first at the clock, then towards the doorway that he was expecting a horde of school girls to come charging through any minute. Yohji appeared deep in thought, and while the brunet hated to break into the manís musings, he would really like an answer before Yohji took the opportunity to disappear again. The younger assassin was not looking forward to spending this evening and the next several wandering around a bunch of strange bars without the prospect of backup. Besides, the blond had more experience with the environment this mission was sending Weiss into, what with his habit of dating anything pretty and up for a good time. "Ah, Yohji, I hate to rush you, but, uhm, yes or no?"
At the question, the blond shook himself and seemed to remember that the brunet was standing right next to him, waiting for an answer. Shoving his shades up onto his forehead, Yohji turned a rather serious gaze on his teammate. "Iím in. I canít believe that you guys actually thought you could handle this mission without me. Iíll help you canvass the bars, and be there to cover Ayaís ass when he fails miserably at this assignment. Maybe next time you guys will remember to wait for the professionals before trying something crazy like this." Yohji was beginning to relish the idea of seeing his straitlaced partners struggle with this case, and with being presented with a chance to witness his seemingly perfect leader fail at a mission. And then I can swoop in and rescue the poor darling, Yohji thought gleefully. Scenario after scenario began to flit through the blondís head; different ways he would step in and save his overwhelmed red head. Fortunately, before he could start drooling at fantasy Ayaís ways of expressing his gratitude for being rescued, Yohji was distracted by Omiís rushed entrance into the flower shop.
Knowing that the teenagerís return from school signaled that very shortly a crowd of young women eager to see their favorite bishonen would besiege the shop, Ken quickly flashed a thumbís up at his friend. Smiling, Omi tied on an apron around his waist while informing his co-workers that he had received a message from Aya.
"Huh, what, did Aya manage to find a job already?" Ken asked, eyes fixed on the door.
"Hai, when I got out of class today there was a voicemail from him. It seems that he is the newest employee at Bacchus, and starts tonight. I donít think that he even got a chance to go to any other of the clubs on the list. Thatís one less place that you and Yohji need to check out. Hopefully Aya will come across some information that will make your search easier." Omi was exceedingly cheerful, even for him and with the prospect of a large group of romance-minded teenage girl descending upon the premises shortly. The mission was beginning to come together, and for the first time in several weeks, Yohji seemed interested in being a member of Weiss. Omiís little family was together again.
"And this is where youíll enter the drink orders. The system isnít that complicated, but you might want to practice on it for a little bit. You enter your id here, and then pretty much just touch the screen on what you want to order. Iíll leave you alone with it for a bit while I go out and have a cigarette." Aya glanced up from the terminal he had been studying to watch his new co-worker depart. The young man, a brunet with caramel highlights named Seiichi, had been showing him around the club so he would be ready to wait tables that night. Judging by the boyís attire, Aya, or Makoto Matsumoto (which was Ayaís identity for this mission), had dressed a bit on the conservative side. Tight shirt and jeans did not compare to a mesh top and obscenely tight cutoffs. However, it had not prevented the assassin from being hired on the spot. As soon as the manager had come out and given the red head a once over, he had been offered the position. He hadnít even had the chance to present the fake set of references and work history that Omi had compiled for him. The manager, a stocky man in his mid thirties named Kei, had merely handed him over to Seiichi to be given a crash course in working at Bacchus once it was established that "Makoto" was able to start immediately. Luckily, Ayaís previous experience at waiting tables, from past missions and the time before he had become an assassin, helped him to grasp much of the information the other waiter was throwing at him. Concentrating on figuring out the clubís computer system, Aya was none the less aware of his new superior coming over to stand beside him.
"Howís it going Red, taking everything in ok? Any questions, just ask Seiichi, heís one of our best servers." Getting the impression that Omi probably hadnít of need to come up with a fake identity at all, as everyone had started calling him Red as soon as he was hired, Aya just nodded and kept practicing with the screen. Kei continued to stand besides the young man, watching him learn the system.
Usually Kei preferred to hire more outgoing people to work at Bacchus. The customers came here to have a good time, and to do some serious flirting. The employees were counted on to be able to hold their own, and to be part of the attraction of the bar. But there were two reasons why the older had decided to go against type upon hiring the red head. The first was because of the recent attacks on patrons and employees of the clubs in this area. Bacchus had lost several employees because of the crimes, and was by no means the only bar in the area to do so. People were getting scared, and the policeís seeming inability to find any leads on the case was not helping. The manager barely suppressed a snort at that thought. Somehow he doubted that if it were anyone other than gay men were being targeted, the city would be in an uproar to catch the monster behind the attacks. But since it was gay men being attacked, and in an area notorious for the Ďsinfulí activities that took place at night, no one at the police station appeared to care very much. Even the press was taking a pass on the matter, regulating the story to small excerpts all but lost amid other more noteworthy news.
The second reason was the man himself. The young man was simply gorgeous. Kei was not about to let him wander off and be snapped up by some other club in the area. The older man could pretty much guarantee that once word of mouth of Redís presence got out, the bar would be full of eager men hoping to catch a glimpse, and more, of the young man. It was not often that someone so exotic and breathtaking wanted to wait tables at a place like Bacchus, they could most often find better employment elsewhere. Not even the red headís standoffish nature could detract from his appeal. If anything, Kei was willing to bet it would drive the customers crazy. Nothing was more desirous than something beautiful that was clearly out of reach. "Iím glad to see that youíre figuring out how this place works so fast. Weíll have you stationed near the bar tonight, just a few tables at first, to make sure you donít get swamped your first night. Any problems, just let Mickey, thatís the bartender, know and heíll take care of things. The customers tend to be a bit friendly, but if things get out of hand, Mickey will know what to do. " Keiís eyes roamed the red headís body as he talked, taking in how the clinging shirt and jeans revealed firm muscles. Something about the younger manís physique and stance told him that here was one employee who would probably be able to handle himself.
Backing away from the computer terminal, Aya turned to face the stocky man. "I can take care of myself. I know what Iím getting myself into here, you donít need to worry about me." Seeing the older man nod and head back into the office, a small part of Ayaís mind couldnít help but to needle him. "At least you hope you canÖ."
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